Korede Azeez, a young Nigerian, is among six winners of a groundbreaking competition entitled ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’, organised by Netflix and UNESCO for Sub-Saharan Africa’s up-and-coming filmmakers.
Each winner will receive US$25,000 plus a production budget of US$75,000 to create short films through a local production company and under the guidance of Netflix-appointed supervising producer and industry mentors from across the continent.
In announcing the winners today, Netflix said, “Staying true to the competition’s aim of showcasing Africa’s rich cultural heritage, the short films will feature reimagined African folktales presented in multiple African languages.”
The winners are: Korede Azeez (Nigeria) with ‘Adieu, Salut’, Mohamed Echkouna (Mauritania) with ‘The Enmity Djinn’, Walter Mzengi (Tanzania) ‘Katope’, Voline Ogutu (Kenya) with ‘Anyango and the Ogre’, Loukman Ali (Uganda) with ‘Katera of the Punishment Island’, and Gcobisa Yako (South Africa) with ‘Uma’Mlambo’.
“The six filmmakers will now go into the development phase of their projects, before starting production on the short films that will eventually premiere on Netflix as part of ‘An Anthology of African Folktales’ later this year,” the U.S. company said, adding, “They will be mentored by acclaimed African filmmakers which include Femi Odugbemi, Jenna Bass, Leila Djansi, Pape Boye, Bongiwe Selane and Tosh Gitonga.”
The competition was launched by Netflix and UNESCO in October 2021, with the goal of promoting diverse local stories and bringing them to the world.
The competition was also a step towards creative equity – as part of the Netflix Creative Equity Fund, which aims at enabling new voices from underrepresented communities within entertainment to bring their perspectives to a global audience.
Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, said: “Congratulations to the six winners! The fact that their films will be shown to a global audience is part of our commitment to promote cultural diversity around the world. Like the African movie sector itself, these six individuals have a very bright future ahead of them.
“The laureates, and all the participants in this competition more broadly, highlight the rich, diverse and ever-evolving culture that Sub-Saharan Africa has to offer and that UNESCO wants to promote.
“We cannot wait to celebrate these films at a special premier at UNESCO headquarters in Paris at the end of this year.”
Also in his response, Netflix Director of Content in Africa, Mr. Ben Amadasun, said, “It’s been a truly inspiring journey for us to experience the level of creative talent from our candidates. From the thousands of applicants we’ve received to the Top 21 and finally, the 6 winners – it’s evident that Africa is filled with amazing storytelling talent that is ready to share their different perspectives and celebrate Africa’s rich culture and heritage.
“Congratulations to the winners – and to emerging filmmakers who didn’t make it – we urge you to continue your passion of telling African stories.
“The world is ready to experience your talent and we at Netflix, will continue to be your biggest cheerleaders in this journey.”
New Citizen has earlier reported that 13 African countries participated in the competition.
Four Nigerians were eventually last February selected among 20 shortlisted candidates who moved forward in the competition.
The four Nigerians were Nosa Igbinedion, Tongryang Pantu, Anita Abada, and Korede Azeez.